AFRICA/RWANDA - KINYAMATEKA CATHOLIC PAPER COMMENTS ON RECENT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
Rome (Fides Service) – Rwandans gave a 95% victory to President Paul Kagame in elections on 25 August. We publish here an article on the vote printed in Kinyamateka Catholic paper in French. Here is our English translation.
“The genocide and the massacres in Rwanda in 1994 instilled in Rwandans the courage to strive to overcome all difficult situations at any price. The plebiscite vote for President Kagame is the crowning of a series of successes in all directions in record time.
The seeds of his election were sown when President Kagame, leader of FPR-Inkotamyi, succeeded in stopping the genocide which was swallowing up more than one million innocent lives by replacing the troops of the United Nations (MINUAR) who were cowardly fleeing their responsibility leaving behind countless victims imploring for help and protection. Much earlier, in October 1990 and by virtue of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims the right to live in one’s country of birth and enjoy civil rights, Rwandans recognised that President Kagame had led a war in order to repatriate more than two million refugees spread around the world since 1959. To do this he clashed with the armies of Rwanda at the time, of Zaire, France, Belgium and others. The people of Rwanda have no short memory. They recall that after the victory the President formed a national unity government with representatives of all the nation’s components and that the return en masses of about three million exiles since 1994 came about without much difficulty. This repatriation, which some said was “suicidal” , persuaded the incredulous of the good will that animated the new administration.
President Kagame earned the trust of the people by integrating members of the old Rwandan army FAR into the new Patriotic Rwandan army. It is a rare to see the winner hold out a hand to the loser to form a united army. This new army showed its discipline and cohesion in combat which followed to guarantee national security. Other wining cards which the President’ opponents lacked was that of having removed the evil of ethnicity from the hearts of the people, of aiming especially for development, social and culture, technical and scientific, and lastly to have had recourse to traditional Gacaca Courts to shed light on trials of genocide suspects in order to free the innocent and judge the criminals.
It is clear that all registered political parities in Rwanda have sound bases because they have years of political experience. Rwanda’s political forces examined in detail President Kagame’s pragmatic policy and then decided to present him as their candidate at presidential elections. They could have acted differently and played the policy of politicians introducing cacophony in the cohesive concert of peace. But they put national interests and the good of the people first. This decision demonstrated lucidity and political maturity of the respective groups and a deep sense of patriotism.
Some candidates for the Presidency knew they lacked the weight to make the scales lean to their side. This was the case of Nayinzira Jean Mepomuscene, former minister of the national unity government, former president of the national commission for unity and reconciliation, former member of the national transition Assembly. He had worked with President Kagame, appreciating his charisma and his policy of welcoming and adopting new ideas. Nayinzira J. N. is not stupid: an attentive politician, he wanted to feel the pulse of the electorate and at the same time re-establish his reputation after the insults received from his own Party and the National Assembly. The result is of little importance. I think that Nayinzira J. N. wanted to return to politics beating the drums. His self-esteem has grown, he is known as a candidate for the presidency and his name is inscribed among the nomenclature of high-ranking Rwandans.
By running for presidency Ms Alivera Mukabaramba was the first women in Rwanda to aspire to this delicate position. Her speeches reflected the love of a mother and her profession as a paediatrician, compassion for the excluded, sweetness and gentleness. Courageous and tenacious, she challenged the male myth that only men can take pondered decisions.
Of the four candidates, Faustin Twagiramundgu was the great loser. His defeat and disappointment will remain for a long time because he was certain he would win the election by right. According to statements by his supporters, the strategy of ethnic division he thought of using and as his strong point had lost its importance after eight years of absence. He tried to sow division in the arid soil and massive defection registered in all provinces inflicted a fatal blow, which he will remember for the rest of his life.
A great lesson
To aspire to the Presidency in the future candidates will have first of all to consider the mindset of the Rwandan people, consider first of all the interest of the nation and present a realistic programme”. (Fides Service 8/9/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 478)
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